El Niño devastation demands development solutions: UNDP

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New York City - El Niño, the weather phenomenon which is devastating the livelihoods of tens of millions across the world, demands immediate attention to development solutions to mitigate the impact of its inevitable return, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ahead of a key international meeting today.

While the latest El Niño, a warming of the central and eastern Pacific which can cause both floods and droughts across broad swathes of the world, is now receding, its impact is being felt across the world. Around 60 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to drought, flooding and other extreme weather events.

“El Niño is frequently seen as a humanitarian challenge. While this is true, there are also profound developmental aspects to weather phenomena like El Niño. That is because they are not one-off events or disasters. Instead, they are felt regularly and that is why it is crucial to prepare now to mitigate their impact next time around,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator Izumi Nakamitsu.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate, will be taking part in the crucial meeting on El Niño at the United Nations in New York today. Ms Nakamitsu will also be present.

“El Niño happens every three to seven years, and is often followed by another devastating weather phenomena, La Niña. That predictability means that we cannot afford to ignore the need to be building the resilience of the communities that are likely to feel its impacts again and again,” she said.

UNDP’s support includes disaster risk reduction, climate risk management, crisis response and recovery. “Investment in development and long-term resilience is a down payment against, and a prevention strategy for, humanitarian crises,” Ms Nakamitsu said.

She noted that the Sustainable Development Goals – an ambitious set of goals agreed upon last year to guide development towards 2030 – demand that the world ‘leave no one behind’. “We will never achieve these goals if crises wipe out development gains and return us again and again to square one, and El Niño is a perfect example of a crisis that can do just that.”

Contact Information:
Adam Cathro, Communications Specialist, UNDP, +1 212 906 5326, +1 917 915 9725 (cell),